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Treating Centipede Decline

Protect Your Turf

What is centipede decline? Centipede decline is a generic term applied to a variety of common issues found on centipedegrass lawns. Problem areas typically arise in centipede lawns with compacted soils, excessive thatch, areas affected by drought, and other regions of the lawn that are under stress. 

How to Spot Centipede Decline

Centipede decline frequently occurs after the grass greens up in early spring. The lawn begins to gradually discolor, wilt, and eventually die, only to be replaced by weeds or other less desirable grasses. Around the edge of where the centipede is still green, the die back will look chlorotic or yellowish in appearance. In the cooler, wet weather of spring and fall, brown patch disease may occur, resulting in circular straw-colored patches 2 to 6 feet in diameter. Nematodes may also infect centipedegrass, resulting in weeds completely taking over the affected area. Fairy rings (circular formations of lawn mushrooms) are another possibility, as are ground pearls (above-ground scale insects that can discolor the turf). 

Causes of Centipede Decline

What causes centipedegrass to decline? One of the most prevalent reasons is improper lawn nutrition. Centipedegrass does not respond well to over-fertilization. High nitrogen levels applied to the lawn before green-up can lead to excessive vegetative growth. Other potential reasons for decline include high phosphorus levels, a thick thatch layer, compacted soils, and a pH level of over 6.0. 

Treating Centipede Decline

Proper lawn maintenance can control or reduce the chances of centipede decline. Weed Man's exclusive brand of slow-release fertilizer feeds the plant as it needs it through the root. This will help ensure the correct levels of nutrition are always being taken in by the grass plant. If your centipede lawn is suffering from compacted soil or has a thick layer of thatch, consider investing in annual aeration to help keep your lawn thriving. Hint: if your centipede lawn is overly spongy, then there is a good chance that it has built up a thatch layer.

Good cultural practices can be incredibly impactful. Weed Man recommends only watering your centipede turf when it needs it – give it a good soak! – and at the right time of day (morning is best). Light, frequent watering will only do more harm than good. Mowing heights above 2 inches tend to promote centipede decline while mowing heights of 1-2 inches at weekly intervals lessen the problem. Never remove more than one-third of the leaf blade in one cutting. 

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